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Thunderbird at ASU alumnus Marshall Parke to deliver keynote at spring 2024 convocation

Portrait of Marshall Parke.

Marshall Parke, a 1977 graduate of the Thunderbird School of Global Management and founder of the Thunderbird SHARE Fellowship program, will serve as the keynote speaker at the school's spring 2024 convocation ceremony on May 7. Courtesy photo

May 06, 2024

Marshall Parke, distinguished alumnus of the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University and global entrepreneur, will deliver the keynote address at Thunderbird’s convocation for spring 2024 graduates on May 7.

Parke is currently the senior partner of venture capital firm Western Venture Partners. He was previously the vice chairman and a managing partner at Lexington Partners, the largest buyer of secondary interests of private equity assets globally.

Thunderbird at ASU spring 2024 convocation

Thunderbird will recognize one of its largest graduating classes with over 360 graduates during the spring 2024 convocation ceremony on Tuesday, May 7, at 4 p.m. at the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix.

Prior to joining Lexington, Parke founded and built Manistee Ltd., a Bangkok-based merchant bank focused on advising and building businesses in the emerging markets of Southeast Asia. At Manistee, Parke started six businesses focused on investment banking, semiconductor packaging and assembly, advertising and environmental solutions.

Parke double majored in international affairs and Arabic at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he also worked as an aide in the U.S. Congress during the Watergate era. After graduating, he sought a career in international finance with a major New York bank. While receptive to his application, the experienced bankers that he interviewed with universally recommended that he return to his home state of Arizona and attend Thunderbird. 

Upon graduation from Thunderbird with a master's degree in international management, Parke joined the Chase Manhattan Bank Global Credit Training program. He was one of 16 members of his Thunderbird class to join Chase, many of whom remain friends today.

“At that time, Thunderbird’s biggest export to New York was a generation of bankers and advertising executives, and we worked and socialized together," Parke said. "Later, I left Chase and joined the HongKong Bank in Asia to work on financing projects in newly emerging China. Experience in China led to the then-growing countries of Southeast Asia. When I spun out of the HongKong Bank to set up my own firm, Manistee Ltd., I found the senior managers in Bangkok at Bank of America, Citibank, Young & Rubicam, Cargill, and the Mekong Delta Commission all came from my cohort at Thunderbird. Friday nights at the Crown Royal were like being back in The Pub!”

The Pub that Parke references originally opened on the Glendale campus in 1971, just a few years prior to Parke and his fellow cohort starting at Thunderbird. By then, the venue had established itself as more than a place to grab a beverage, but instead as a place where friendships were forged and jobs were created.

It was also during this time that Parke’s experiences as a T-bird would help shape his desire to give back in a profound way. In 2008, he would become the founder of Thunderbird's SHARE Fellowship program, which would go on to impact nearly 100 students — from nearly 50 countries — and counting. 

Those who are selected for the SHARE Fellowship are provided scholarships and professional mentoring opportunities. These students are also from low- and middle-income countries that might not otherwise have the resources to attend Thunderbird.  

Read more about notable Thunderbird alums:

Thunderbird at ASU grad shares inspirational journey from Haiti to global changemaker

From professor to global leader: Thunderbird graduates' dreams become reality

California roots, global impact: Thunderbird at ASU grad's journey in global management

“I created the SHARE Fellowship after thinking of my time in Bangkok. While it was terrific to have American graduates running these organizations, I thought, 'Why don’t we have Thai, Indonesian or Filipinos doing this?'" Parke said.

SHARE takes students from emerging countries around the world and gives them the tools to become global participants, whether directly returning home or participating from abroad. They become friends and advocates for America for the rest of their lives.

“Through Marshall’s incredible generosity, we have been able to provide exceptional Thunderbird students the opportunity to fully capitalize on their potential and create brighter futures for their communities,” said Sanjeev Khagram, director general and dean of Thunderbird. “Marshall embodies the true spirit of Thunderbird through his unwavering commitment to global collaboration and innovative thinking. We are proud to have him with us today as we celebrate our spring graduates. They will undoubtedly see firsthand his passion for supporting our students and how his vision for the SHARE Fellowship program has created a lasting impact on T-birds for generations to come." 

Since the program’s inception, countless businesses have been launched and relationships forged across the globe.

“I started thinking that it would be interesting to provide people from other countries with access to a Thunderbird education with the hope that they would come home at some point and use their skills and knowledge to build the capacity of their countries,” Parke said. 

“I was recently in Hanoi, Vietnam, where I had lunch with five of the first SHARE Fellows. Between them, over the last 15 years, they had started seven businesses and listed three. All of the students have given back to SHARE, and one is currently working on a multimillion-(dollar) SHARE endowment for future students. There are similar extraordinary SHARE stories around the world; Thunderbird has simply unlocked their potential!”

Video courtesy the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University

Maria Houle, executive director of the SHARE Fellowship program and Thunderbird alumna, leads the program and has observed firsthand the impact it has had on assisting students with the transition to a fast-paced, new life of a Thunderbird in Arizona.

“The fellows work extraordinarily hard to get to Thunderbird, and while here, the professors and other students report that they adapt quickly and make extraordinary contributions,” Houle said. 

Unlike standard scholarship programs, SHARE provides student tuition and stipend money so that its fellows may participate fully in campus life, take advantage of unpaid internships, and attend optional academic programs. The expense money is distributed through the SHARE It Forward program, allowing students to ask for a capped amount of expense money as a loan. Fellows sign an agreement to repay the amount, interest-free, to the program in the form of a donation so that other students benefit in the future.

"SHARE It Forward helps to build a sense of community and highlights to the students that giving back is an essential value,” Houle said.

To sum up his entrepreneurial journey, Parke likes to build things — from businesses to communities to legacies. After he and his partners sold Lexington Partners to Franklin Templeton, Parke and his son Findlay started Western Venture Partners, a venture capital firm working with leaders in the new technologies changing global communities. In the hope that deserving students from the emerging economies might benefit and contribute to this technological revolution, the Parke family has donated investments in several of the leading Silicon Valley firms to fund a SHARE endowment. 

As a multigeneration native of Arizona, 1977 Thunderbird graduate, and father of a graduating member of this spring's cohort, Parke is proud of what Thunderbird has become and a great believer in what the future holds for the school.

“Thunderbird attracts a different kind of student," he said. "It attracts a student that wants to have a global life. Thunderbirds have gone out and made very important relationships all over the world, benefiting the United States and growing their businesses. It’s something that’s known around the world, and it started right here in Arizona.”

Read more about Thunderbird’s notable spring 2024 graduates:

Breaking down borders: ASU grad learns importance of international trade for global economy

Zimbabwean native graduates from Thunderbird at ASU with passion for big data and machine learning

Thunderbird at ASU grad’s journey toward a global career in human resources and event management

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